Tag Archives: pulp heroes

PULP HERO THE NYCTALOPE: MORE BLOG POSTS WILL BE COMING

nyctalope-1Balladeer’s Blog’s posts about neglected Pulp Heroes like the Nyctalope, G-8 and His Battle Aces and others have proven enduringly popular over the years. My work on the then-obscure Moon Man from the 1930s caught the eye of author Greg Hatcher, who was kind enough to thank me for my synopses of all 38 original Moon Man stories AND to send me a copy of his story in the 2014 collection of new Moon Man (and other hero) tales by modern authors. 

Since I’m as vain as the next guy I’ll even thank Mr Hatcher again for his kind November 2013 note that read in part: “I was writing to thank you for your invaluable index (Of Moon Man stories). I literally couldn’t have done it without your scholarship to fall back on … I thought the least I could do was let you have mine in advance as a thank-you, and also let you see the afterword where you and your blog are acknowledged.” 

Anyway, writing a blog isn’t JUST about getting death-threats and such. You sometimes hear from very kind-hearted people like Greg Hatcher.

nyctalope-2This brings us back to the Nyctalope, the neglected bionic French Pulp Hero created in the VERY early 20th century by France’s sci fi icon Jean de la Hire. My review of some of the Nyctalope novels in the original French predated a couple of the recently published English language translations and assorted readers were wondering when I would finish the whole series, like I did with G-8, Silver John and Northwest Smith.

Rest assured my reviews of The Moroccan Sphinx, The Amazons of Everest, Voyage of the Nyctalope, The Nude Sorceress, Assassination of the Nyctalope and The Mysterious Skeleton are forthcoming … Just like my completion of the Son of the Black Mass samurai films & novels, The Flashman Papers and other items. Hopefully we’ll all still be alive by then. 

FOR MY ORIGINAL NYCTALOPE ARTICLE CLICK HERE

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FLASHMAN NOVELS: SIXTH TO NINTH PLACE

Flashman 1st novel 5Balladeer’s Blog’s original reviews of The Top Five Harry Flashman Novels were such a hit I followed it up with bonus reviews of what I consider the 6th, then 7th, then 8th, then 9th novels. It may be a few weeks until I finish any of my reviews of the remaining books in the series so here’s quick links to the 6th through 9th place selections.

Flashman and the Mountain of Light 2SIXTH PLACE

FLASHMAN AND THE MOUNTAIN OF LIGHT (1990) – Time period: First Sikh War (1845-1846) Harry’s bed and battle adventures during the First Sikh War. The Mountain of Light of the title refers to the Koh-I-Noor (“Mountain of Light”) Diamond, at that time in the possession of the Maharani Jeendan of the Punjab. CLICK HERE 

flashman and the redskins 2SEVENTH PLACE

FLASHMAN AND THE REDSKINS (1982) – Time period: 1849-1850 and 1875-1876 This novel deals with Flashman’s escapades with the Forty-Niners on the way to the California gold fields during the Gold Rush. Features Pawnee, Arapaho, Sioux and Apaches. The second part finds Harry reluctantly (as always) involved in the Sioux Uprising including Little Big Horn and its aftermath. CLICK HERE 

flashman 1st novelEIGHTH PLACE

FLASHMAN (1969) – Time period: 1839-1842  The novel that started it all follows our favorite British blackguard from his infamous expulsion from Rugby for drunken misconduct, to his purchase of an officer’s position in the British Cavalry, his marriage to Elspeth and finally his peril-filled exploits in the First Afghan War. CLICK HERE  Continue reading

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FLASHMAN NOVELS: NINTH PLACE

For Balladeer’s Blog’s Number One Harry Flashman Novel click HERE . For background info on George MacDonald Fraser’s infamous anti-hero Harry Paget Flashman you can also click that link.

Flash for Freedom9. FLASH FOR FREEDOM (1971)

Time Period: 1848-1849

Favorite Book Blurb: “Only Harry Flashman, that swashbuckling gremlin in the works of 19th Century history, could start out running for a seat in Parliament but wind up fleeing England over a gambling scandal, extortionately shanghaied onto a criminal slave ship, clashing with one of the African kings selling his own people to slavers, conning the American government, reluctantly working for the Underground Railroad and ultimately facing down a pack of southern slave-hunters side by side with a young Congressman named Abraham Lincoln.”  

Synopsis: Wealthy John Morrison, Flashman’s hated father-in-law, still has Harry under his thumb money-wise. Morrison decides he wants a Member of Parliament in his control and figures Harry’s war hero status will make him a can’t-miss candidate.

Flash for Freedom 2For his part our scurvy protagonist gleefully anticipates all manner of graft money and getting to vote to send other people off to war for a change rather than being sent himself. With Morrison’s financial backing, Flashman finds himself in the political arena – an arena where other people are more skilled at cheating than he is.

Harry being Harry he also finds himself snogging in the grass with the real-life Fanny Locke (later famous as Fanny Duberly) and trading parlor-room insults with the likes of Benjamin Disraeli and Lord George Bentinck. At length a card-game scandal coupled with a charge of violent assault wind up forcing Flashman to flee the country for a few years.

Flash for FreedomWith very few transportation options open to the on-the-lam scoundrel, Harry ends up on an outbound ship owned by his father-in-law but finds that he has once again gone from the frying pan into the fire. To Flashman’s great shock he learns that the ship he’s stuck on is a slaver – and that the illegal trade is a large part of John Morrison’s shady fortune.

Amid all this bad luck fate at last smiles on our protagonist when a crew-member that he befriends turns out to be an undercover Royal Navy Officer assigned to infiltrate and bring down Morrison’s sizable slaving operation. That officer – Lieutenant Beauchamp Comber – has clandestinely assembled a mound of incriminating evidence against Morrison and his agents.        Continue reading

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BLACK PANTHER: PANTHER’S RAGE

 

Black PantherHere’s Balladeer’s Blog’s examination of Don McGregor’s 1973-1975 Black Panther story Panther’s Rage. I’m no comic book expert but in my opinion Panther’s Rage surpasses much of the work done by the overrated and overpraised Alan Moore.

As always, since I’m neither a liberal nor a conservative I was surprised by some of the intense political reactions to my reviewing this Black Panther story. Many people who call themselves conservatives seem to think this Marvel Comics character has some connection to the hate group called the Black Panthers.

Actually this figure came BEFORE the Black Panthers. In fact Marvel flirted with changing the character’s name a few times – once to just simply “the Panther” and once to “the Black Leopard” – to keep their character separated from the racist hate group.

Erik Killmonger

“Memes … memes, everywhere.”

On the other side many people who call themselves liberals huffed and puffed indignantly that I was covering a 13-part story written by (GASP) a white guy about a black character! Hey, a white guy even CREATED the character. I wonder if that invalidates the Black Panther entirely in their narrow minds.   

Anyway, here are chapter by chapter links to my review –

ONE: PANTHER’S RAGE – Prince T’Challa, the Black Panther, returns to his isolated African kingdom of Wakanda to try to put down a violent rebellion led by a Wakandan calling himself Erik Killmonger. CLICK HERE 

TWO: DEATH REGIMENTS BENEATH WAKANDA – The Black Panther battles Venomm, the supervillain in charge of Killmonger’s operation tunneling toward Wakanda City while simultaneously mining and stealing the nation’s vibranium reserves. CLICK HERE 

THREE: MALICE BY CRIMSON MOONLIGHT – Killmonger sends a super-powered woman called Malice to help Venomm escape from the Royal Palace’s prison on the same night that T’Challa is undergoing his renewal of the Panther Herb ritual. CLICK HERE   Continue reading

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FLASHMAN ON THE GOLD COAST: LOST FLASHMAN PAPERS

For Flashman Down Under, Flashman in the Opium War & Flashman and the Kings click HERE   Balladeer’s Blog now moves on to another Harry Flashman adventure referred to but never completed before George MacDonald Fraser’s death.

elmina castleProjected Title: FLASHMAN ON THE GOLD COAST

Time Period: Third Ashanti War (1873-1874)

The Setup: Queen Victoria’s Empire – specifically the British Gold Coast – bought the Dutch Gold Coast from Holland in 1871. The nearby Ashanti People of Africa had been at peace with the Dutch for over 200 years but were wary of their “new neighbors” and were protective of their enormous wealth in gold. They invaded the British Gold Coast in May, 1873.  

flashman shieldIn June the advance of the Ashanti was halted at Elmina and back in England Her Majesty’s Government made plans to send additional troops to the Gold Coast to deal with the situation. By August 13th General Garnet Wolseley was chosen to lead the army.

The Story: Wolseley, personally familiar with Flashman from the Crimean War and the Great Mutiny, would draft the reluctant Colonel-on-Half-Pay into his campaign. Sir Harry’s knack for picking up languages and his years of experience as a colonial officer would convince Wolseley of our hero’s fitness for this type of warfare, no matter what excuses Flashman would try to use.  Continue reading

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FLASHMAN NOVELS: SEVENTH PLACE

Alan Bates -better Flashman than MalcolmFor Balladeer’s Blog’s Number One Harry Flashman Novel click HERE  . For background info on George MacDonald Fraser’s infamous anti-hero Harry Paget Flashman you can also click that link.

Reaction to my list of The Top Five Harry Flashman Novels continues to come in, with readers wanting more Flashman reviews. Here’s my take on the novel which would have been in seventh place if I had done a list of my Top Seven Harry Flashman Novels.

flashman and the redskins 27. FLASHMAN AND THE REDSKINS (1982)

Time Period: Part One – 1849-1850, Part Two – 1875-1876

The Flashman novels jump around to different periods of the fictional Harry Flashman’s life. This book covers his adventures with the Forty-Niners on the way to the California gold fields as well as his much later involvement in the Sioux Uprising.

Favorite Book Blurb: “The West is just wild about Harry!” (It came long before “See what I did there?” was a thing, but the sentiment still applies.) 

NOTE: Once again Fraser used the structure of a swashbuckling, guns-blazing adventure story to cast his critical eye on some of the Great Names and Great Events of the 19th Century. Get ready for another generous helping of “History Noir” as only George could write it: by blending fact, fiction and satirical subtext in a way which scandalizes BOTH the political right AND the left.

And as always when viewed against the backdrop of history’s major atrocities the amoral carnal and monetary pursuits of that British blackguard Harry Paget Flashman look almost harmless by comparison.  

flashman and the redskinsSynopsis: The plot of Flashman and the Redskins picks up immediately after the end of Flash For Freedom (1971). Still stranded without funds in 1849 America our antihero returns to the welcoming arms – and bed – of brothel madam Susie Willink. That voluptuous MILF has been bitten by the Gold Bug and invites Harry to join her and her stable of prostitutes as part of a wagon train headed to California.

Soon the expatriate British Cavalry Officer is traipsing across the continent alongside the young Kit Carson himself. Harry, Kit, Susie and their wagon train wind up negotiating with and/or fighting Pawnee, Arapaho and other assorted tribes of Native Americans as well as combating cholera, thirst and hunger along the way. Continue reading

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IN SEARCH OF THE UNKNOWN (1904): LIKE A FORERUNNER OF INDIANA JONES

bruce-boxleitner-as-frank-buckIN SEARCH OF THE UNKNOWN (1904) by Robert W Chambers. Previously Balladeer’s Blog examined Chambers’ underrated horror classic The King in Yellow. The work we’re looking at this time around is a collection of short stories about Gilland the Zoologist. Gilland was a forerunner of the real-life Frank “Bring ’em Back Alive” Buck and the fictional Indiana Jones.

Our daring hero worked for the Bronx Zoological Gardens and was frequently dispatched by Professor Farrago to try to bring in dangerous crypto-zoological specimens or disprove their existence if they were hoaxes. The stories in this volume:

bruce-boxleitner-as-frank-buck-2I. THE HARBOR MASTER – Gilland is sent north to Hudson Bay where a Harbor Master has reported capturing a pair of Great Auks, flightless birds which went extinct in the mid-1800s. The two-fisted scholar finds the Great Auks are for real but the Harbor Master harbors (see what I did there) a sinister secret.

This story also features the Harbor Master’s beautiful secretary, who naturally catches Gilland’s eye, and a gilled merman (shades of Creature From The Black Lagoon), who wants to mate with the lovely lady himself. Gilland’s not having it, of course, and must do battle with the creature.  

bruce-boxleitner-as-frank-buck-3II. IN QUEST OF THE DINGUE – The Graham Glacier melts, unleashing a number of animals from species that were long thought extinct. Among the crowd of academics converging on the unexplored area are Gilland and Professor Smawl. The Professor is a sexy, strong-willed female scholar that our hero has been forced to accompany into the region.

The battle of the sexes bickering flies like shrapnel as the pair encounter Woolly Mammoths and other creatures, find a primitive bell called a dingue and run afoul of a gigantic super-powered woman who calls herself the Spirit of the North. Continue reading

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